In 2009, Meherwan Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant - Chai Pani, an Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville, NC. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. Since then, the self-taught chef has opened six restaurants, one bar, and now, Spicewalla.
With four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he's finally confident this might just be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Saveur, USA Today, and Bon Appétit, among others.
His latest venture, Spicewalla, harkens back to his roots in India. Every fall, while growing up, Meherwan's family would spend a whole week making their own dhansak masala from the freshest, hand-picked whole spices. They'd roast and grind it all themselves -- a tradition he brought with him when he opened his first restaurant.
When some local chef pals asked him where they could source fresher, superior spices in more manageable amounts for their kitchens, he jumped at the opportunity to share his passion for all things spice.